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Peas, beans, lentils: tips about legumes

Legumes include the ripe, dried seeds of peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and lupins. The UN has even proclaimed 2016 the year of legumes. Legumes are becoming increasingly popular and rightly so, and the consumption per German citizen climbed to 1.3 kilograms in 2017. In 2013 it was around half a kilogram per German citizen.

Nutrient-rich powerhouses

Legumes are extremely high in protein, low in fat, high in fiber, high in B vitamins, minerals and secondary ingredients. In a varied combination with cereals, vegetables, potatoes, nuts, milk or eggs, legumes become a very high-quality and at the same time inexpensive source of protein, which is a good substitute for animal protein in a sustainable diet. The seeds are now processed into flour, milk, spreads, meat substitutes and many other products.

Favorable ecological balance

In comparison to meat, legumes are significantly more resource and climate friendly as a source of protein. In cultivation, pulses also help to make the soil more fertile, as they accumulate nitrogen in the soil

Prepare legumes properly

In addition to the classic stews such as pea, bean and lentil soup, legumes can be prepared in a variety of ways: as a salad, patty, spread, casserole, puree and even as desserts and cakes.

Dried legumes must be soaked in three times the amount of water for up to twelve hours before preparation. Exceptions are lentils, peeled peas and small types of beans such as adzuki beans or black beans.

The subsequent cooking time varies depending on the size and type of the legumes and is between 15 minutes and two hours. Contrary to previous advice, salt helps soften vegetables faster when cooked. Acid such as B. in vinegar and lemon juice, on the other hand, harden the cell structures in legumes. It should therefore only be added at the end of the cooking time.

If you have to go fast: Many legumes are already cooked as canned foods, but they are often very salty.
Are you looking for proven recipes for legumes? How about chickpea paste "A thousand and one nights?" or "Indian coconut lentil soup"? You will find more than 60 delicious recipes in our guide "Weight under control".

Do not eat legumes raw

Raw they contain harmful substances that are only destroyed by heating during the cooking process. Extreme caution is advised, especially with raw green beans: The information center against poisoning classifies them as "very toxic" - they contain the poisonous protein phasin. Depending on the amount, consumption can lead to severe symptoms of poisoning and even death. Therefore, beans must always be cooked for at least 15 minutes before consumption. It is not advisable to use the steamer.

Do not use soaking water

Flatulence after eating peas, beans and the like is caused by the ingredient stachyosis. This quadruple sugar cannot be broken down by the body's own enzymes, but only by colon bacteria with the formation of gas. In order to counteract discomfort, the soaking water should therefore no longer be used, as stachyosis largely passes into the soaking water.

Can be stored almost indefinitely

Dried legumes can be kept for a year or more and are therefore ideal as a supply. It is best to store them in a cool, dry place protected from light. This means that they can also be used beyond the best-before date. Peeled legumes only last about six months.

Best left in its natural state

As a basis for meat substitutes, pulses are used in many different ways, especially in vegan and vegetarian finished products. Soy sausages, lupine schnitzel or cold cuts are not always recommended alternatives. The following applies to all meat substitute products: the higher the degree of processing, the longer the list of ingredients with additives such as flavor enhancers or colors and aromas. With the exception of tofu, the alternative products are less or not recommended. In the everyday kitchen they should rather remain an exception, because legumes should preferably be used "pure", i.e. natural.

Anyone who eats them regularly is therefore definitely doing something good for their body. The small power packs can be used to prepare varied dishes, which is why they have earned a permanent place in everyday kitchens.

Pasta made from lentils, beans and chickpeas

For some time, pasta made from legumes has been offered. They are just as valuable as the legumes themselves. Compared to classic grain noodles, they contain a higher protein content and, depending on the variety, sometimes more fiber and minerals. They are also gluten-free. They are only made from legume flour and water.